What is Silver?

Silver is a transition metal, found on the second row of the eleventh column of the periodic table of elements.

The atomic number of silver is 47, due to its possession of 47 protons, along with 47 electrons and 60 neutrons.

silver facts

The chemical symbol for silver is Ag, and its atomic weight is 107.87.

At room temperature, silver appears as a solid metal, and its melting point is 961 degrees Celsius, and its boiling point is 2162 degrees Celsius.

Thus, silver can retain its structure and properties at quite high temperatures.

heat-sun-convection

Characteristics and Properties

In its standard, most typical form, silver is a solid but soft metal that comes in a shiny, gray, metallic type of color.

Silver is known to be ductile, which means that it is malleable, moveable, and can be bent and shaped into things like wire or flat sheets.

mirror reflection

Silver can conduct both electricity and heat better than any other known element of the periodic table. Interestingly, silver is also particularly reflective in appearance.

However, it has very low reactivity.

periodic table

Silver does not react at all when exposed to elements of oxygen and carbon dioxide, or even other elements found in both the atmosphere and in water.

However, just like copper, silver can tarnish when exposed to the right reactant.

In particular, silver tarnishes when it makes contact with compounds of sulfur.

Sulfur

History

Interestingly, silver has been used by humans since the times of ancient civilizations, and thus it has been used for so long that we do not know who the first person was to discover silver, or when that was.

History Facts for Kids

Silver, as with most other metals, can be found among the minerals in the Earth’s outer crust layer. However, it can also be found in the earth in its pure form, although this is quite rare.

The most common way to obtain silver is to mine it along with other metals, such as zinc, copper, gold, and lead.

mining-excavation

Within the United States, the most common source of silver is the mines in Nevada. In the world, the most common sources of silver are Mexico, Peru, and China.

Mexican flag

How Silver is Used Today

Since its use in ancient times, one of the most common uses of silver is to make cutlery (which we even call silverware!) and jewelry.

Much of the modern silver jewelry is a silver alloy, which combines 92% silver and 7% copper into sterling silver.

green copper steeple

Another use of silver in both ancient civilizations and in modern times is currency (coins).

It used to be much more common for coins to be made of real, pure silver. In modern times this is less common however, as the price of silver is generally higher than the value of the coins we make.

US penny

One common use of silver that does not particularly come from ancient times is electronics. Silver is used to conduct electricity in modern electronics and appliances, similar to copper.

Silver can also be used to create batteries that last for particularly long amounts of time.

quiz-kids

Fun Silver Quiz!

  1. What are three common uses of silver today?
  2. What color is silver?
  3. What is the chemical symbol for silver?
  4. How many protons does silver have?
  5. Where does silver come from?

Answers:

  1. Jewelry, silverware, and electronics
  2. A shiny, metallic gray
  3. Ag
  4. 47
  5. Mostly Mexico, Peru, and China

Chemistry